Orsett Poor Law Union, Essex Genealogy
Chadwell St Mary, Essex
East Tilbury, Essex
Grays Thurrock, Essex
Horndon on the Hill, Essex
Langdon Hills, Essex
Little Thurrock, Essex
North Ockendon, Essex
South Ockendon, Essex
West Thurrock, Essex
West Tilbury, Essex
Later Addition: Canvey Island (1837-80) Canvey Island, Essex.
Essex Record Office, Wharf Road Chelmsford CM2 6YT. Few records survive — holdings include: Guardians' minutes (1835-1930) and Relief order books (1911-32)
Essex Record Office reference :G/Or
Scope and Content The Poor Law Amendment Act of 1834 removed responsibility for the poor from parishes (see D/P.../11-18) and transferred administration to Boards of Guardians of the Poor. The Guardians administered groups of parishes or Poor Law Unions. Each Union had its own workhouse. In 1872 the Public Health Act created urban and rural sanitary authorities, with the Guardians constituted as the rural sanitary authority for those parts of each Union not in an urban sanitary authority. These records are catalogued here as G/...S. The Local Government Act of 1894 replaced rural sanitary authorities with rural district councils (see D/R). The Local Government Act of 1929 abolished the Boards of Guardians and transfered their powers to the Public Assistance Committees of County Councils (for minutes of Essex County Council Public assistance Committe 1929-1948 see C/MPa 1-22).
Many of the workhouse infirmaries continued as hospitals after 1930, continuing after the introduction of the National Health Service in 1948.
For other records illustrating the work of the Guardians see D/P.../19.
For orders, directions and declarations of Poor Law Commissioners responsible for grouping parishes into Unions, 1835-1837, see Q/RSw 2-5.
For catalogue of correspondence between Poor Law Unions and Poor Law Commission (later Poor Law Board and Local Government Board) 1837-1900 see List and Index Society Vol.56.
G. Cuttle The Legacy of the Rural Guardians (Heffer, 1934 E.R.O Library 362.50942) provides a good account of the work of the Guardians in six mid-Essex Unions, together with the newscuttings he collected and used in wirting the book (T/P 181).
For analysis of ledgers see Journal of the Society of Archivists II, pp. 367-369.
For more information on the history of the workhouse, see Peter Higginbotham's web site: www.workhouses.org.uk and http://www.workhouses.org.uk/index.html?Orsett/Orsett.shtml Workhouses website